Study Guide

Ruby in Cold Mountain

By Charles Frazier

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Need to feed fifteen people on short notice? Chop down a tree and make a fence? Trade a piano for a great haul of hogs and sheep? Survive the winter? Ruby can do it all.

This resolutely practical woman is just the person to save Ada from starving in the winter. Ruby would totally be the person who saves the day on any reality TV show. When Ada is afraid of her own rooster, Ruby grabs the bird, twists off its head, and makes a nice dinner from it. That about says it all.

Ruby marches in, starts setting the farm to rights, and teaches Ada how to work. She's a whirlwind of skills and talents, and hasn't got a lazy bone in her body. She doesn't say "Good night," she says "Time for my night work" (6.45).

Her father, Stobrod Thewes, got all the lazy there was to go around in the family. Since he was too busy partying and sleeping to provide very much for his daughter, she learned to find her own food from very early on. She's resourceful, hardworking, and smart, all in spite of the fact she's had pretty much no education.

She and Ada start with an unlikely partnership to survive, and grow to an unlikely friendship as they work on the farm and share stories with each other. It's like a buddy movie, and it's fun to watch their friendship unfold as the story goes on.

No one seems less romantic than Ruby, but surprise! At the end of the story, it's Ruby who's married, to the boy from Georgia who was hanging out with her father before his run-in with the Home Guard. It's a happy match, with three kids. And after all those years, they still like to cuddle.

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